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Regionalism denied by Blue House

Apr 14,2003
The Blue House yesterday reacted strongly to charges of discrimination against Jeolla provinces. A Blue House aide rebutted the accusations, saying that politicians from the region are instead responsible for abusing the long-rooted regionalism.
“Until lately, politicians from Gyeongsang provinces mostly initiated and encouraged the sentiment of regional discrimination,” Jeong Chan-yong, presidential advisor for personnel affairs, said. “Some politicians from Jeolla provinces, however, are now abusing the sentiment.”
In an interview with SBS radio, Mr. Jeong said two or three lawmakers from Gwangju in particular are making accusations that government appointments favor the Gyeongsang provinces. Jeolla provinces are traditionally the ruling Millennium Democratic Party’s stronghold, whereas Gyeong-sang provinces tend to back the opposition Grand National Party.
“Some of the older generation MDP lawmakers were leading the accusations, but they are not the only ones,” Mr. Jeong said. “Also, the media is amplifying the charges.”
In a phone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Mr. Jeong said, “Because up to six rounds of discussion took place before appointing top officials such as ministers, vice ministers and Blue House senior secretaries, we are confident that there was no favoritism involved.” He, however, admitted that some high-ranking posts, particularly in the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, were dominated by non-Jeolla candidates.
MDP Representatives Kang Un-tae and Jeon Gap-gil, who made accusations last week, reacted sensitively to the Blue House aide’s rebuttal yesterday. “We spoke frankly about how locals felt in Jeolla region,” Mr. Kang said. “It is wrong to say that we were making an ill use of regional sentiment.”
Some young MDP lawmakers, however, agreed with Mr. Jeong. “Politicians are trying to exaggerate the complaints of a few people,” said Representative Kim Kyung-jae.


by Kang Min-seok


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